Lord, be on the internet.
Be with the twenty-somethings browsing Zillow, dreaming of the day when they aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.
Be with the children checking the “I am 13-years-old and over” box and lying. May they find the caring corners of the internet. May they trust the adults around them to admit when they have gone too far.
Be with the Instagram hustlers, the artists drawing every day and counting followers, the TikTok musicians sending snippets of what they hope are future top 40 hits, the Twitch streamers who can count on their hands the number of people in their chat. Give them all rest, God.
Be with those hiding in the shadows: those surreptitiously watching porn late at night, unable to stop consuming the lies; those crafting emails that snatch the passwords right from victim’s fingers; those buying another coat from Amazon, hoping that this will draw them out from the soul-crushing sadness; those amassing bot-networks to crash people’s gaming sessions for little reason; those crying out into the void of social networks, begging for someone to care and see them.
Be with the internet olds, who were the first to find their people in a strange and foreign land and got swept up in history.
Be with the abandoned personal blogs, the broken hyperlinks, the forums that have shut their doors, the YouTube channels snuffed out by death, the AO3 fanfictions last updated in 2013. Be with the internet archivists, continually trying to record an ever-shifting and ever-decaying virtual world.
Be with the high schoolers facetiming their friends, talking about calculus and makeup and Frankenstein and Among Us and the newest trendy show and the newest NBA star and nothing and the world. Be with the grandparents facetiming grandchildren, lessening the sting of hundreds of miles of distance. Be with the college students, messaging pictures and “I love you”s across borders, across oceans.
Be with the people with chronic pain, with disabilities that make mobility hard, with paralysis, with carpal tunnel. May the internet afford them more flexibility than roadblocks, more empowerment than infantilization.
Be with the activists, the ones who rise up. Those who sign petitions and post news on their Instagram stories but also the ones who videotape town hall speeches and organize marches in far-flung places. Protect them, Lord.
Be with the adults asking their coworkers to again explain what the latest TikTok trend is. Be with the marketing teams who have to ride the waves of inscrutable memes. Be with the workers, organizing in back channels and finding solidarity from Twitter.
Be with people scrolling, unconsciously giving away miles of personal information. God, change the way companies make money here. Give people the ingenuity and the creativity and the courage to dream bigger.
Be with those who do not know; be with those who must hide. Who google “signs that you are gay.” Who turn to GoFundMe and friends in order to get life affirming surgery. Who can only be who they truly are under the veneer of a screen until the world becomes more forgiving.
Be with those who are able to reach higher than they thought possible, able to find people who accept them for who they are, able to broaden their horizons and see your world in all its glory.
Be with this reader, God. Be with me. Seek us through these brightly-lit screens; let us seek you here as well.
Alex Johnson (‘19) is a virtual computer science teacher and a proud resident of Grand Rapids. When she’s not brainstorming the newest project to inflict on her students, she’s cooking semi-vegetarian food, reading too many romance books, and playing rhythm games.